Moreira aiming to regain ground on Purton in jockeys' title fight

Hong Kong stars in action at Sha Tin on Saturday.

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Joao Moreira will try to make up ground on Zac Purton in the race for the Hong Kong jockeys’ title at Sha Tin on Saturday.

Purton rode a five-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday to pull four clear in the championship battle, but Moreira is hoping to capitalise on a full book of 10 rides at Sha Tin, while his rival has seven mounts.

He said: “It’s not over yet. I’ve got some support and some nice rides coming up.

“There’s no doubt that what Zac did on Wednesday was fantastic. He has proven he’s a world class jockey and nobody should be surprised that he’s in front at the moment, he’s put himself in a much more comfortable situation getting a few winners ahead of me.

“But I don’t think people should doubt me because I have faith in myself. I know I’ve got it too, I’ve got the skills and abilities and I know what I’m doing. I’m very strong mentally and I’ll be doing my best all the way to the end.”

Moreira has set the pace for most of the campaign, which culminates at Happy Valley on July 15, with Purton leading the way for three short spells so far.

“A little while ago I was 11 in front, then I was behind and then I went three or four ahead of Zac again; now I’m behind but who knows what’s going to happen even in the next 30 days?” Moreira said.

“The public is loving it, but Zac and I are rivals only on the track. When we are off the track we are not enemies, we treat each other very well and I think we shouldn’t change that because if we do it will make things awkward for both of us and create an unhealthy environment.

“So far, we’ve been able to keep the sporting rivalry the way that it should be and if I’m the winner, or he’s the winner at the end of the season, either of us would have done enough to deserve it.”

Moreira will ride four horses for John Size, including one-time Classic Series hope Beauty Legacy in the Amber Handicap, in which Purton rides ex-Irish runner Decrypt.

Moreira also teams up with Ping Hai Treasure, Iluvataar and Hong Kong Win for Size and while content with his backing, he thinks Purton has been gaining momentum in recent weeks.

“I can’t complain about the support that I’ve got but if I go deep into it, I think there’s a bigger number of trainers migrating to Zac’s boat – I think he’s getting enough support and where he is at the moment proves it,” he said.

Moreira is hoping Size’s young stock can make their presence felt before the end of the campaign though.

He added: “I do think that, especially when he’s starting to send out some of his younger horses and I hope that gives me a boost.

“I need it very much, but, at the same time, I can’t just rely on him because let’s say his young horses don’t do very well, then it’s over for me. So I’m also working with other trainers, I feel like I can get other rides outside and I hope that’s just enough to help me out in the premiership.”

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